Previews

Tomb Raider: Lara's latest is Bond meets Lost

Meet the new, vulnerable Lara...

When people have an emotional attachment to a character, you feel their emotions as you take their journey with them.

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So when Lara feels vulnerable you really understand why she's vulnerable," says Brand Director Karl Stewart. He's talking about the driving force behind this new Tomb Raider; the idea of the origins story, where we see a heroic icon - in this case Lara Croft - raw and emotional.

He cites recent examples, like James Bond in Casino Royale, for the tone they're trying to strike. Crystal Dynamics are showing us the very human girl behind the indestructible heroine.

During our interview Stewart continues to illuminate afew features that remained murky after the stunning, dark E3 gameplay demo. Firstly, this Tomb Raider isn't all about dark caves and treasure plundering - the island Lara is stranded on for the entire game is incredibly varied.

"The island is a way for players to experience the new Lara in a number of different ways - she's not just stuck in tombs underground," says Stewart. "We're going to take her above land and out in the open, and you'll see a very varied landscape across the island." This means beaches, jungle and villages, along with different weather effects - not just the driving rain and oppressive darkness we've seen so far. Dinosaurs, however, are unlikely...

DREAD ISLAND

He continues to explain how the island is split into hub areas, which you explore once then return to at any time. You can't free-roam the whole island, but you can freely platform through each hub area, discovering fresh paths to different parts of the island (and the story) as you gain new exploration and combat tools. Initially your kit will be very limited − after all, this is a survival story.

Finding new items and learning new skills will allow you to access fresh areas of the island. "A great example is the climbing axe," says Stewart. "In the early stages it helps Lara to traverse the environment, but over time she's going to have to use it in different ways. So she'll use it in combat, or to prise open new areas, for example".

The game won't just expect you to find everything on your own. As with most modern games, there's a certain amount of hand-holding, especially when it comes to the story. Crystal guide the player using Survival Instincts − hints that hover over 'mission specific items'.

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However, unlike Batman's detective vision, these hints appear for one puzzle only. "For us Survival Instincts are about teaching the player about the world around Lara," explains Stewart. They help you find your feet, but after that − to avoid on-screen clutter − you're on your own. n

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